The President’s Message

Tony Mustaro

Dear Friends,

Sorry to have missed you all at the September meeting. I actually made it down to Hermann Sons Hall but was not feeling well and decided it best to return home. Thanks to ex-President Kris Nelson for conducting the meeting. According to the reports I’ve had, we had an excellent evening of music. I had been particularly looking forward to last month’s meeting because Bart Beninco had prepared a program for us and it’s always a pleasure to hear Bart play. Hopefully, we can have him perform for us again soon.

There is more sad news for our accordion community this month. We have lost another valued and well-loved member in Vince Cirelli. Vince was a warm and gentle man, an excellent musician and music teacher and a consummate accordion craftsman. He was one of a very few craftsmen in the United States capable of building a beautiful accordion from scratch. He was always there with a smile and a good word, and he was a modest and unpretentious man despite his many skills and accomplishments. Our heart-felt condolences go out to Vince’s family and all of his friends. We’ll miss you Vince.

This month’s meeting will start out with a Gumbo feed prepared by our own Kris Nelson. If you haven’t had Kris’ gumbo you’re in for a treat. Once again I invite you to come out and have a great meal at a bargain price followed by an evening of musical entertainment. Feel free to invite your friends and family if they haven’t been to our club before (or even if they have been here before). They’ll have a good time and it will give you a chance to visit with them in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.

Finally, I want to remind you to mark your calendars for Saturday December 8, 2012. This is the date for our annual Christmas Dinner Dance. Music of course by the Steve Balich Band for your dancing pleasure will follow a very nice meal. Friends and family are welcome as are volunteers to assist in making this evening a success. If you are interested in volunteering please contact me or any one of the officers or board members and let us know.
See you all on October 15

Tony Mustaro
Accordion Club of the Redwoods

Vincent Joseph Cirelli


Age 91, revered accordion craftsman, loving father, trusted friend to many, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, September 29, 2012. Vincent, the son of Italian immigrants, born on December 21, 1920, grew up in the North Beach area of San Francisco. There he began learning the art of accordion building, developing skills as a young boy that he perfected throughout his lifetime. His talent, coupled with a warm hearted, sincere demeanor, garnered him the respect and adoration of many who crossed his path. Upon serving honorably in the U.S Coast Guard, Vincent returned home after World War II. He traveled around the country for two years playing one of his specially made accordions on a train tour sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. In 1946 Vincent opened his accordion business in San Francisco where he began growing his business into a distinguished hub for musicians in the Bay Area and throughout the United States. He had an enduring career for nearly 65 years doing what he loved, and more importantly, surrounded by those he loved.

He is survived by his loving children, Diane Marie Smith and Vincent Felice Cirelli; grandchildren Sheri Ann Carter, Vincent Joseph Cirelli, and Vincent George Smith; great-grandchildren; Alyssa Ann Cirelli, Victoria Marie Carter, and Caden Carmello Carter. He is preceded in death by his loving wife of 49 years, Ann Victoria Pirolo, parents Felice and Carmella Cirelli, and his sister Alice Vorhis. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

By Gwyn Lister

For five wonderful days Xavier de La Prade,  Frank Divita, and I enjoyed wonderful accordion music at the 2012 Las Vegas Accordion Convention.  There may have been others from the San Francisco Accordion Club and the Accordion Club of the Redwoods but with over 250 people attending I am not sure who else was there from home.

Everyday started with workshops each hour. They included “Bellow Shake Techniques”, “Improvising and Adding Flair to Oktoberfest Music”, “ A Simple Approach to the Accordion” and many more. The Orchestra practiced every afternoon for two hours under the direction of Professor Joan Cochran Sommers and gave a concert on the last night of the Convention.  There were about forty players in the orchestra, the music was set out ahead of the convention, and we had a wonderful time playing the eight selections. At every lunch  and dinner  (the food was outstanding) we were treated to professional  performances from : Dick Contino, Jeff Lisenby, The Accordion Kings, Stas Venglevski, Peter Soave, Amy Jo Sawyer, Gordon Kohl, Mary Tokarski, and so many more. These musicians were also the Session leaders. We finished up our day in “Club Concerto” listening to our fellow participate entertain us.

The Theme this year was “Mardi Gras” and costume night was great fun – next year the Convention will be the end of October – so watch for the Halloween costumes. The convention was held at the Gold Coast Hotel in Las Vegas and will be there again next year. The hotel is very comfortable but there is no time to gamble.  If you have not been to this venue it is worth your time to hear so many great accordion players and be with nice people, who play the accordion. For information contact: Paul Pasquali @ Phone:  801-485-5840 or email: www.

September 2012 Entertainment


Ivan Urakov

Our first player of the night was one of our youngest students, Ivan Urakov. Ivan (Pronounced Eevon) is a student of Marjorie Konrad and has made quite a bit of progress under her tutelage. Ivan took the stage and exhibited confidence and the ability to speak to the audience. He also communicated very well with his accordion as many audience members could attest to. Ivan player the following songs: “Ode to Joy”, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, and “Oom Pa Wa Wa.” Ivan did very well. Kepp up the good work young man!


Steve Balich

The next “youngster” to take the stage was our own past president Steve Balich. Steve is a bay area favorite and plays gigs constantly. If you didn’t know this already, it bears repeating that a young Steve Balich studied under the same accordion teacher as world famous showman Dick Contino. Steve grew up in San Francisco where he met a pretty young gal named Jennie and they got married. We are lucky to be their friends. When Steve isn’t cooking for our club or directing the ACR band, he takes the stage to delight us with a selection of many of our favorite tunes. (Mine has always been the El Rio Drive Polka.)
Steve’s selections included: “Mannin Polka”, “La Paloma”, and “Daig Daig Snow Waltz. Thanks to Steve for entertaining us once again and for being such a great friend to all of us.


George Simko

George Simko visited once again from the great state of Texas where he says it’s less crowded, there’s less traffic,  and the folks are friendly, just like George. George started his set with a nod to past president Kris Nelson, it was a Cajun tune called “Biscuts and Honey.” The rest of George’s set included a variety of influences and showcased George’s many talents. “Let’s Dance ‘til Dawn”, “Australian Polka”, Western Waltz”, “Reci Le Zakai”, and an old favorite “The Pennsylvania Polka.” Thanks George it’s always good to have you back in town. Thanks for dropped by to visit and play for us.


Bart Beninco

Bart Beninco played in our final tunes of the night. Bart’s teacher was the well know East Coast accordion instructor, Rudy Molinaro. Rudy has the reputation as being one of the best accordion instructors in America. He was well known for his numerous accordion orchestras and competition level students. You can hear Rudy’s influence today in Bart’s playing. Bart remembers many summers spent at the Molinaro school practicing eight hours each day. It was regiments like this that forged Bart into the virtuoso player that he is today. As his first performance of the night Bart played a stirring rendition of the “National Anthem.” The entire audience was brought to its feet by the passion of Bart’s performance. Bart played a lengthy and varied set which included: “Sentimental Night”, “Italian Pollka”, “Red River Valley”, “Never on a Sunday”, “Oh, Danny Boy”, “Swinging Shepherd Blues”, “Baby Elephant Walk”, “Beer Barrel Polka”, and “Tango of the Roses.”
Thank to Bart and Rudy for another Great performance.


News, October 2012

2012 ACR Scholarships
ACR Scholarship chairman Joe Chiesa informs us that October is the deadline for ACR Scholarship applications. All requests for application forms may be obtained by calling Joe at (707) 539-1407. ACR scholarships are accepted for accordion students ages 6 – 18 years of age from the San Francisco bay area. Scholarships are limited to funds on hand. Please turn in your applications as soon as possible.

Mark Your Calendars!
Louisiana Gumbo Feed in October
In October we will be in for a real treat. Past ACR President Kris Nelson will be whipping up a Cajun Gumbo prior to the Ocotober 15th meeting.  Don’t worry that it will be too spicy for you. It’s a savory soup of chicken and smoked sausage that will tickle your taste buds, not burn your tongue. The door donation will be $5.00 if you want dinner ($3.00 if you don’t). You will get a ticket with your dinner donation. Which you will need to present to be served. Dinner will be served at 6:30pm and the meeting will start at 7:30pm.

ACR Band Update
The ACR Band will have its next meeting on October 15th, 6:30 before the ACR general meeting. All levels of players are welcome. It helps if you can read sheet music. Bring an accordion and a good measure of enthusiasm. If you would like to play in the band, please contact Steve Balich at 707-874-3494.

2012 ACR Christmas Dinner Dance.
The ACR Christmas Dinner Dance is set for Saturday, December 8th, 2012 this year. Let’s gather with family and friends and have a festive holiday party. Food, music, dancing and good fun with our good friends. Details in next month’s Reedwooder.

Silence is Golden.
Out of consideration for the performers and your fellow members in the audience, please don’t talk during the musical part of the ACR meetings. The performers deserve our respect and attention. So be kind and reserve the chit-chat and discussions for the intermissions and breaks.

Play for the ACR, Get in Free.
The ACR board has voted to admit all performers into the monthly meetings for free. As long as the musicians sign up and perform a minimum of three songs, they will admitted without the normal donation at the door.